Classic Book Jackets: The Design Legacy of George Salter

Thomas S. Hansen, Author, Milton Glaser, Author, Milton Glaser, Foreword by Princeton Architectural Press $35 (200p) ISBN 978-1-56898-491-9
In today's maximum-impact market, with bold colors and graphics plastering book jackets of all sorts, it's refreshing to peruse this book, which features the work of George Salter, one of the most successful book-jacket designers of the past century. It starts with a biographical synopsis of Salter's work, but the real raison d'etre here are the illustrations, which show how brilliantly Salter captured a book's theme and plot. Take the swirling collage of characters and images on his cover for Isak Dinesen's Winter's Tales or the haunting images of ghost-like figures looking upon a man in a black suit in his cover for Franz Kafka's The Trial. Sometimes the book cover's relation to the subject is subtle, yet definite--for instance, a series of wavy lines against a black backdrop on the cover of Evelyn Waugh's The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold subtly depicts the book's topic: one man's neurological illness. This overview commendably goes a step further than the jackets themselves, showing Salter's lasting contributions to the world of book design, such as a three-dimensional, calligraphy-inspired font called ""Flex."" Sometimes, one does wish for a bit more cross-study--it would have been nice, for instance, to see examples of Salter's ""Flex"" font in recent work by today's designers--but, overall, this is a pleasantly nostalgic look at an important figure in the world of books. 220 color illustrations.
Reviewed on: 12/06/2004
Release date: 12/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
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